Last week, the movie Unidentified was screened to a select audience of family and friends in Los Angeles. This movie was a two-years-in-the-making-shoe-string-budget-labor-of-love that began with producer/star Eddie Mui‘s bizarre dreams, then expanded into a full fledged movie when Eddie brought producer/star Parry Shen and writer/director Jason Richard Miller on board.
You can stop reading here, watch the trailer, and go on my advice that this is a great indie flick, and wait until it comes out on-demand January 14, 2014 and later on DVD February 11, 2014. Or you can read my spoilery first impressions of the movie after the trailer.
** SPOILERS START HERE (though I’m not going to give away too much) **
Here’s my version of the synopsis: Four guys go on a road trip to Vegas and get into a lot of trouble… terrestrial and extra-terrestrial.
What seems like a less glamorous version of a Hangover-like road trip movie quickly turns into a “What the heck just happened!!! OMG!!!!?!?!?!” experience for the characters and the audience. The viewer is always the first to know that our flawed, funny guys may not be safe anymore. Considering this was made on a shoe-string budget, the special effects were amazing (thanks to director Jason Miller)! There is one scene that is still seared into my memory and is perhaps the most terrifying I’ve seen. Spoiler alert… you’ve been warned!
After making an unplanned pit-stop at a sprawling, abandoned housing complex (which actually exists) and fleeing for their lives from an unseen “being” (I assumed it was a shuffling armadillo), the guys are back in their car while the camcorder is still recording. Only the audience can see what’s going on outside the car in the background. A drunken homeless man, who had appeared out of nowhere, is seen staggering in the background until he suddenly gets yanked off the ground and into the sky!
And THAT is how you set the tone for a movie, folks.
The only issue I had with the film is that the found-footage style made me car-sick. Perhaps if I see it on a regular TV screen, it won’t be as bad. However, everything was captivating enough that, even though I was sick to my stomach, I just… couldn’t…. stop…. watching. I wanted to know what was going to happen to these guys.
Finally, Unidentified is a movie about four dudes on the greatest adventure of their lives. It’s been a growing trend in indie filmmaking to create fun, full characters who help tell a story, and it doesn’t matter what color they are. Mainstream Hollywood is about 70+ years behind in realizing that putting non-White characters in one of their mainstream movies is NOT a gimmick anymore. Like, we are way beyond Breakfast at Tiffany’s or The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show. It’s just tiresome crap. Why? Because non-White people are our neighbors, our co-workers, our in-laws, our spouses, our children, and me. And you. This is who we relate to; not some caricature of my brother.
I mean, do you REALLY think aliens see us as anything other than Homo Sapiens of Terra?
P.S. — If you’re in San Diego, you can catch a screening of Unidentified at the San Diego Asian Film Festival on November 8, 2013!